The Bafta-winning short documentary, 73 Cows, told the story of the dairy farmer who gave over his herd to an animal sanctuary. It is a poignant, beautiful tale – https://smartercommunities.media/73-cows-how-one-farming-couple-opted-for-compassion/. However, the couple at the heart of the film, Jay and Katja Wilde, are clearly unusual in taking such a route.
Can Refarm’d help others to follow the Wildes’ lead? The aim of the scheme is to turn dairy farms into animal sanctuaries. It is seeking to do this by initially demonstrating local demand for plant-based milk, thereby facilitating dairy farmers to change focus, with their farms converted into animal sanctuaries for their cattle that are no longer being used for dairy farming.
While this might sound far-fetched, founder, Geraldine Starke, claims the announcement of an initial farm is imminent, with advanced talks with four others. Moreover, more than 1200 people have signed to show their interest in a plant-based milk subscription that supports this model of agricultural change.
The bulk of those signed up, around 700, are in the UK and the initial farm is in Derbyshire. While the ex-dairy farmer has already switched to a sanctuary, it will allow Refarm’d to test the business model, says Starke. It will start with oat milk and the scheme envisages subscribers being able to collect from the farm and from other distribution points, and for delivery within a 150 mile radius. Deliveries will be by electric or natural gas vehicles.
Of the other farms in discussion, two are in the UK, one in France and one in the US. The UK-centric uptake to date is partly biased, says Starke, because Refarm’d had the most contacts with groups here but also stems from the steep uptake in veganism in the country of late.